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Film / Carry On Nurse

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Carry On Nurse is a 1959 sequel to the 1958 British film Carry On, Sergeant, which later became the second outing of the popular Carry On franchise. It starred Kenneth Connor, Terrence Longdon, Hattie Jacques, Shirley Eaton, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams and Leslie Phillips, and was also the debut of soon-to-be series regular Joan Sims.

The movie is based around many subplots with lots of different characters that meet up in a location — in this case, being in a hospital. This would soon be the typical set-up that many of the successful Carry On films would follow years later.

Said hospital is named Haven which is patrolled by the Sister (Joan Hickson) and Matron (Jacques), who inspect their nurses daily. Nurse Dawson (Sims) is among the group and usually stands out for her clumsiness, much to the head women's annoyance.


The patients they look after include the headphone-prone Humphrey Hinton (Hawtrey), a journalist named Ted York with appendicitis (Longdon) who falls for nurse Denton (Eaton), a boxer named Bernie Bishop with a broken hand (Connor), the academically-inclined Oliver Reckitt (Williams), and a man named Jack Bell (Phillips) with a bunion. The bane of their lives is the Colonel (Wilfrid Hyde-White), a private patient who won't go five minutes without summoning a nurse to his room for some minor reason or another.

Hilarity Ensues.


Tropes included are:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: When the Matron walks in to find the Colonel in a compromising position with a daffodil up his bottom, she can't help but crack a smile and stifle a laugh.
  • Alliterative Name: Bernie Bishop.
  • Annoying Patient: The Colonel is perhaps the best example of this trope in the Carry On series. He has Mick, the orderly, place bets for him on a regular basis, and makes incessant minor requests of the nurses, preventing them from properly carrying out their duties in the wards. When he sticks a "learning driver" L sticker to Nurse Dawson's backside, the nursing staff decide to get revenge with a Thermometer Gag.
    • Unusually for a film like this, the Colonel is really the only example of this trope. All of the rest of the men, whilst appreciative of the beautiful ladies around them, are quiet, well-behaved, respectful, and just generally focused on healing up so they can leave.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: Matron is obsessed with cleanliness (to Oliver's intense frustration, as he resents the disruption to his daily schedule caused by cleaning the wards) and is a real taskmaster to the nurses under her command.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: When Jill, the sister of Oliver's friend Harry, visits Oliver in hospital with the books he needs to continue his studies, it becomes obvious that there is a mutual attraction between them, but they are too shy to say anything the first few times Jill visits. Lampshaded by Bernie, who can spot the obvious and nudges Oliver to come clean.
  • Catchphrase: Since Jack's surname is Bell, he likes using the phrase "Ding dong!" in conversation, especially when flirting with the nurses on his arrival at the hospital. The phrase would become closely associated with Leslie Phillips in the decades that followed.
  • The Chain of Harm: Downplayed; after Oliver Reckitt publicly calls the Matron out on how the rule against men laying atop of their bedsheets is not an official ruling, but merely her personal dictation, Matron storms off in a huff. Resentful over being shown up and her authority challenged in front of the ward, she chews out the Sister, demanding that she have all the beds remade. The Sister then chews out the staff nurse in the same way, passing on the order to her. The staff nurse then chews out Nurse Dawson, who, in turn, angrily shoves her sandwich in the mouth of Mick the janitor when he comes into range.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Nurse Dawson, as played by Joan Sims in her "screen siren" years, is well-meaning but mistake-prone, frequently knocking things over, accidentally leaving a dish of catheters on the stove to sterilise for so long that they burn, and accidentally summoning the fire brigade when she tries to sound the bell for the end of visiting hours.
  • Disguised in Drag: When the patients decide to operate on Jack's bunion, they tie up the night nurse and replace her, in full uniform, with Mr Hinton.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Ted nurses a crush on Nurse Denton while she looks after him.
  • The Gambling Addict: The Colonel is an inveterate gambler and is having his bets placed by Mick, the orderly.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: Mr Hinton is addicted to the hospital radio station and almost never takes his headphones off, whether he is laughing at the comic programmes, sobbing at the latest episode of Mrs Dale's Diary, miming along with a concert performance, or jotting down recipe tips.
  • Hospital Hottie: Nurse Denton is presented as young, attractive, and the object of several characters' affections, most notably Ted's.
  • Insert Cameo: An uncredited Bernard Bresslaw's feet were used as stand-ins for Terence Longdon's, when Ted was supposedly standing in a bath.
  • Intoxication Ensues: When Oliver leads several patients in operating on Jack's bunion after his surgery is delayed, he leaves the nitrous oxide running and soon everyone in the operating theatre is completely loopy from laughing gas, allowing the staff to intervene before the unqualified "surgeon" can do any damage.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Whilst Oliver does come off as somewhat petty and self-absorbed, he does have a legitimate point that demanding the patients only be either under the covers of the bed or on the seat beside them serves no medical purpose, and indeed the need to constantly move between the two places is quite painful to Oliver in person, as he has abdominal stitching.
  • Mugged for Disguise: The night nurse is tied up and Hinton pretends to be her while the others go to the operating theatre.
  • Naked Freak-Out: One of the many nurses is stripped by the drunken men in her ward and tied to a bed.
  • Oh, Crap!: Nurse Dawson's reaction to accidentally pushing the fire alarm instead of the leaving alarm is a single "Oh, crikey".
  • Pint-Size Powerhouse: Bernie the boxer is only 5'2", but he can still pack a punch, as Bert Able discovers to his cost when his medication makes him run amok in the ward.
  • Putting the "Medic" in Comedic
  • Teeny Weenie: When two nurses help an embarrassed Bernie the boxer put on his pyjamas, he squirms and claims that he can do it himself, despite having a bandaged hand. What was one of nurse's response? "What a fuss over such a little thing!" An-already ashamed Bernie gives in and lets the two women continue undressing him. Maybe that's why he's a boxer...
  • Thermometer Gag: The nursing staff decide to get revenge on the Colonel's constant demands and pranks by swapping out his rectal thermometer for a daffodil and taking a photograph of him. Leads to one of the funniest scenes in the whole series:
    The Colonel: Come come, Matron. Surely you've seen a temperature taken like this before?
    Matron: Yes Colonel, many times. But never with a daffodil!
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Bernie the boxer is hardly ever seen wearing anything above the waist.

For other Carry On films about doctoring, see Carry On Doctor, Carry On Again, Doctor and Carry On Matron.

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